Shrink Rap (Psychology Books) discussion

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message 1: by Héctor (last edited Jul 05, 2008 04:44PM) (new)

Héctor [image error]
The ‘shrink’ has become a familiar figure for the French people. Not that they’re any clearer about precisely what distinguishes the psychoanalyst from the psychotherapist, the psychiatrist who gives medication from the psychologist who doesn’t. In the public eye, the shrink is first and foremost someone who listens to you. It’s someone you can confide in, trust in, who you can talk to freely. Someone who helps the suffering (or the enigma) that dwells within you to be expressed and put into words. Someone who welcomes you as a unique being, an exception, worthy as such, not as just anyone, not as a number, not as an example of your age bracket or social class. In a world where everyone can now feel just how disposable they are, the encounter with a shrink is still a clearing, an intimate enclave. One might even say a spiritual oasis. Faced with the magnitude of this social phenomenon, the big institutions and corporations wanted their own shrinks. But the public make no mistake about it; they know full well when the shrink is serving primarily the interests of a master and when he is primarily at the service of the one who is speaking. Well, this world is being threatened with its end. Let me tell you that in the depths of the State, obscure organisations have been working flat out putting the final touches to an as yet undisclosed prototype designed to progressively scrap the shrinks of old: both the shrink who, in the name of his professional autonomy, resists hierarchy, and the wonderful shrink, owing his clientele to word of mouth alone; along with the liberal shrink, who’s accountable to no one but his analysands. Ditch the shrinks! Make way for the techno-shrink!. The techno-shrink won’t have the function of accommodating each person in accordance with THIS the singularity of his or her desire: what a waste of time! What a bad cost/profit ratio! And then, curing with words, that’s witchcraft! No, the techno-shrink doesn’t listen. He counts, he calibrates, he compares. He observes types of behaviour. He evaluates disorders. He pinpoints deficits. Zero autonomy: he obeys protocols, does what he’s told, gathers data and passes it on to research teams. The State apparatuses are present right from the first steps of his training, and he will remain subordinate to them throughout by way of periodic evaluation. The truth is, the techno-shrink isn’t a shrink: he’s an agent of total social control, himself under constant surveillance. I know, it sounds like science fiction. Even Stalin didn’t dare that. It’s even stronger than the Stasi: they used to plant microphones, now you’re going to have a technician wired up directly to your brain. This is nevertheless the main thrust of the text of the decree that a conclave of civil servants from the Health and Higher Education Ministry are boasting they’ll be making their ministers sign in muggy August. This fine project is based on a slight of hand. It’s not enough to plan the death of the shrink people: to be sure that nothing of them survives, they have to be stripped of their name. Techno-shrink, I name you… psychotherapist! Once the Council of State has adopted the implementing decree for the law on the title of psychotherapist, there won’t be any more pretending: with a simple Ministerial Order we will be in Year One of the Techno-Shrink Era. It makes you think of Brecht: unhappy with the people, the government decides to dissolve them and elect another. Or even Lewis Carroll: ‘The question is’, said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’ ‘The question is’, said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master – that’s all.’ However, it’s not so sure that the worst will come to pass. It would astonish me were Roselyne Bachelot, were Valérie Pécresse, to associate their names with this act of infamy. And then there is that young woman who has publicly testified to what she owes to psychoanalysis. Now that she’s become this country’s ‘Queen of Hearts’, she won’t be saying: ‘Psychoanalysis? Off with its head!’

In Debate: Death to the Shrinks? by Jacques-Alain Miller, Le Point N°1868 (3-7-2008)


message 2: by Héctor (last edited Jul 29, 2008 04:24PM) (new)

Héctor
This issue of Le Nouvel Âne wouldn’t have been designed, written and put together in the heart of summer if I hadn’t received, at the end of June, the leaked text of a ministerial draft order which, in favour of the bill on the title of psychotherapist, was programming the beginning of the end of psychoanalysis. You think I’m crying wolf when there’s no wolf to be seen? That I’m tilting at windmills? Let me tell you that all over Europe the fanatical administrations that run us as ‘populations’ and inspire those that govern us are relentlessly tormented by a determined desire to do away with psychoanalysis. In the United Kingdom, the government is preparing to regulate ‘talking therapies’ to the point that on 12 July, the Daily Telegraph announced that psychoanalysis is to be ‘outlawed’ as of 2011 (this article is included below). Pressed to intervene, 10 Downing Street issued a response: ‘Statutory regulation exists to protect the public from poorly performing practitioners,’ it said. Let’s stay calm: the worst hasn’t yet come to pass. But no one can ignore any longer the totalitarian dream that a number of European bureaucrats harbour, a dream that goes as far as regulating private conversation between two adults at the home of one or the other. Suppressing psychoanalysis in one fell swoop, through law and regulation, making its practice illegal, delinquent, and prosecutable: all of this had therefore been thought through, willed, and prepared in Spring 2008 in our dear England. In the French imagination, Albion is perfidious, that’s agreed. But it’s also the country of common sense and decency, albeit with an upper storey to let. It’s the principle of Orwell’s ethics: they don’t believe in ideas – and scarcely in beliefs – which are kept at home, in private; the spirit is positive, pragmatic, they swear only by facts, leaving ideology to the continentals, especially to the Frogs who are always ready to get stirred up over the doubtful daydreams of the Germans; and so on. This cliché is old hat now. In the grip of profligacy, doped up on electronics, intoxicated like its sisters on the continent by its new power, Her Majesty’s bureaucracy is taking to an unbridled constructivism, installing the most widespread society of surveillance any Western democracy has ever seen, and it means to change homo britannicus to the core, remodelling his everyday emotional and mental life. This is coming to fruition, and not by chance, under the reign of Labour, the party that has become the political expression of the top civil servants, like the Socialist Party in France: cameras anywhere and everywhere, evaluation of anything and everything, programmed happiness, faith that the best is calculable, all of this is nothing but the contemporary and degenerate form of the good old totalitarianism of yesteryear, under a capitalist regime. The English are doubtless a reasonable people, but when they get intoxicated, they get more intoxicated than the rest. The intelligentsia, which has never had the weight on the island that it has in France – there’s no ‘writer’s sacrosanct’ (Paul Bénichou) – is apathetically watching the liquidation of its traditional ways without budging, and letting the sorcerer’s apprentices of the London School of Economics do as they please. The likes of Peter Laslett will rise again tomorrow to tell us about The World We Have Lost. The British have the docility of islanders when it comes to autochthonous power: think of Japan’s extraordinary top to bottom mutation during the Meiji era: with his accession at the age of fifteen, Mutsuhito declared that, ‘the ways of former times have been abolished forever’, and, notwithstanding opposition from the samurais, Amen, his will was done. It won’t be the same in the United Kingdom however: in the long term the intrinsic madness of the projects of our new doctrinaires will consign these authoritarian utopias to the dustbin of history. You can read Willem H. Buiter’s enlightening article in this issue on the dangers of ‘neo-paternalism’.

Full text: To The Reader by Jacques-Alain Miller


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